Pickerington High School Central boys tennis coach Kelli Rings has a unique problem. The Tigers have eight players vying for seven spots with all eight players capable of playing any spot from first singles to second doubles.

Pickerington High School Central boys tennis coach Kelli Rings has a unique problem. The Tigers have eight players vying for seven spots with all eight players capable of playing any spot from first singles to second doubles.

In other words, the Tigers do not have any holes in their lineup.

"This is the first time in a long time I don't have that," said Rings, whose team plays today at Westerville Central. "I won't have to hide a court or maneuver things because another court is not going to get a win.

"I'm in a good situation where I could be playing six players in the three singles spots and I have a whole team that's very capable of playing doubles."

Central finished 11-6 overall and tied North for second in the OCC-Ohio Division with 53 points after going 6-1. Gahanna (7-0, 63) won. The Tigers lost three seniors and Rings expected the returnees to spend time on their games in the offseason.

In the preseason, Rings noticed the work has paid off, as she has had trouble settling on a lineup.

The seven players who will see time on varsity are not known. As a result, Rings has yet to determine a lineup and expects it to be a work in progress throughout the season.

"They've all shown good things," Rings said. "No one has eliminated themselves at this time. We're going to move things around quite a bit this season."

Rings has narrowed down the singles courts to seniors Alex Fischbach, Marshall LeVett and Mason Roese and juniors Ross Dinan, Dallas Stang and Chase Thomas.

LeVett and Thomas were paired in the Division I district tournament last season and the duo lost to Mitchell Lothes and Alex Solove of Olentangy Liberty 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.

The three left out of the singles courts will drop down to doubles, where senior Zack Kristoff and junior Jacob DeVore each await a partner.

"I feel I can put any of these eight guys in any situation and be able to pull out a strong and competitive court," Rings said. "This is the first time I truly feel I have a solid team up and down the lineup."

In order to further solidify the team, Rings said her latest goal is to find strong partnerships on the doubles courts.

"All eight are good doubles players," Rings said. "I have to find the two who work best together. There needs to be good camaraderie between doubles teammates."

•North coach Brian Hoff was disappointed in last season's results because expectations weren't met. The Panthers finished 10-5 overall and tied Central for second in the OCC-Ohio with 53 points after going 5-2.

"A lot of teams would be happy with that record," said Hoff, whose team plays today at home against Olentangy. "We expect more around here. It seems like the last couple of years we've been playing not to lose rather than playing to win. I'm stressing a different mindset and hopefully we'll see an attitude change out there."

Hoff is encouraged the attitude change will occur thanks to freshmen Andrew Brady and Patrick Yen.

"They have a lot of energy, they want to win and they've been very competitive," Hoff said. "Whether it's a challenge match or some type of conditioning drill, they are going all out, and it's something we've been missing the last couple of years. I'm glad to see that."

Leading North's group of returnees are junior Sam Prewitt (first singles) and sophomore Dylan Bhaerman (second singles). North graduated two three-time district qualifiers in Matt Gordon and Ryan Gorring. Last season, Gordon and Gorring finished third at the sectional tournament and, for the third consecutive season, lost in the first round of the district tournament.

While Hoff has decided who will be playing in the top two singles courts, the remaining five spots have yet to be determined. Hoff will choose among seniors Brian Good and David Nguyen, junior Alex Bartsch and sophomore Matt Bardales.

"We're going to have a lot of new guys on the team, and it seems like they're all happy to have the opportunity to play on varsity," Hoff said. "In the preseason, we've worked hard and those freshmen are bringing a swagger to the team. I'm liking that so far."

Schedules

CENTRAL

March 30 vs. Thomas Worthington

*March 31 at Lancaster

April 1 at Westerville Central

*April 6 vs. Pickerington North

April 8 at Wellington

April 12 vs. Hilliard Davidson

*April 13 at Gahanna

April 15 vs. Dublin Scioto

April 19 at Bexley

*April 21 at Groveport

*April 22 vs. Newark

*April 27 at Grove City

April 29 vs. DeSales

May 3 at Dublin Coffman

*May 4 vs. Reynoldsburg

May 5 at Worthington Kilbourne

May 8 at OCC-Ohio tournament (TBA)

May 10 vs. St. Charles

May 18 vs. Olentangy

*OCC-Ohio match

NORTH

March 30 vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*March 31 vs. Groveport

April 1 vs. Olentangy

*April 6 at Pickerington Central

April 7 at Olentangy Liberty

*April 13 at Reynoldsburg

April 14 at Hilliard Bradley

April 15 at Dublin Coffman

*April 20 vs. Gahanna

*April 22 vs. Lancaster

April 24 Panther Invitational

*April 27 at Newark

April 29 at Westerville Central

May 1 at Dover Invitational

*May 4 vs. Grove City

May 5 vs. Chillicothe

May 6 at Olentangy Orange

May 8 at OCC-Ohio tournament (TBA)

May 11 vs. Hilliard Davidson

May 18 vs. Dublin Scioto

*OCC-Ohio match

At a glance

CENTRAL

•Coach: Kelli Rings, seventh season

•Next match: Today at Westerville Central

•Key players: Alex Fischbach, Marshall LeVett, Mason Roese and Chase Thomas

NORTH

•Coach: Brian Hoff, seventh season

•Next match: Today vs. Olentangy

•Key players: Dylan Bhaerman and Sam Prewitt